Skip to comments.Have the Debates Actually Changed the Race?
Posted on 10/08/2004 8:14:19 AM PDT by LeftCoastNeoCon
Have the Debates Actually Changed the Race? By Mort Kondracke
Vice presidential debates rarely affect the outcome of the presidential contest, and I doubt that the Dick Cheney-John Edwards matchup did, even though Cheney won on points.
The vice president delivered more sound-bite zingers than the North Carolina Senator did and came off as more authoritative. But his chief contribution was to make up for errors made by President Bush in his first debate with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Even though voters, by a wide margin, judged Kerry the winner of last week's debate, polls indicate that they still regard Bush as the stronger leader in the war on terrorism and prefer him over Kerry.
Cheney successfully attacked Kerry's record on foreign policy dating back to the 1970s, culminating in the shot, "You cannot use tough talk in the course of a 90-minute debate in a presidential campaign to obscure a 30-year record in the United States Senate. John Kerry has consistently come down on the wrong side of all the major defense issues that he's faced as a public official."
While Cheney mentioned it, I thought neither he nor Bush has exploited Kerry's vote against the 1991 Persian Gulf War as much as he could have.
Both Kerry and Edwards have negatively compared Bush's conduct of the current Iraq war with his father's performance in 1991, especially in securing United Nations backing and in forming a robust coalition to fight and pay the costs.
When Edwards did so on Tuesday night, Cheney could have delivered a devastating retort: "And, in spite of all that, and in spite of Saddam Hussein's ruthless invasion of Kuwait, Senator Kerry still voted against going to war."
To the extent that voters kept watching despite competition from the baseball playoffs, I thought Edwards performed better than Cheney on domestic issues, especially on health care.
Earlier, his most effective two blasts were against the Halliburton Co. and Cheney's arch-conservative record as a Congressman in the 1970s and '80s, voting against Head Start, a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and a resolution calling for the release of South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Cheney only weakly responded to Edwards' charges that Halliburton did business with Iran and Libya, that it is under investigation for allegedly paying bribes to foreign leaders during Cheney's tenure as CEO, and that it has been fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting irregularities.
Edwards, exaggerating, likened the latter to the Enron scandal. But Cheney asserted that "the charges are false," even though they are confirmed on Halliburton's own Web site.
What is false is the repeated Democratic charge, made lately in a Kerry campaign ad, that Cheney still has a financial stake in Halliburton and is influencing its acquisition of no-bid contracts in Iraq. Those charges have been exploded on the independent Web site FactCheck.org.
But Edwards' best verbal thrusts against Cheney basically were echoes to a past that's not relevant to current concerns.
On Iraq and the war on terrorism, he essentially reiterated Kerry's claim to have been "consistent" in wanting to hold Hussein "accountable," as well as Kerry's argument that the Iraq war was a "diversion" from the war on terrorism. Cheney revisited the record of inconsistencies by Kerry and Edwards on the Iraq war - voting to authorize it, then against $87 billion to conduct it - and effectively blamed it on their fear of losing ground to anti-war Democrat Howard Dean.
"Now," said Cheney, "if they couldn't stand up to the pressure that Howard Dean represented, how can we expect them to stand up to al Qaeda?"
Going into Friday's second presidential debate, the RealClearPolitics.com average of recent national polls shows Bush holding a narrow lead over Kerry - 1.7 points in a three-way contest with Ralph Nader and just 0.3 percent in a two-way contest.
Those numbers are down from the 5-point lead Bush enjoyed going into the first debate, but the trend of the most recent polls - Fox News and Washington Post/ABC - suggests that Bush has been regaining strength as the memory of the debate fades. Those two polls give him 2- and 6-point leads, respectively.
The Fox poll showed that voters regard Iraq and terrorism as the most important issues facing the country - and on those, Bush outpolls Kerry by 47 percent to 39 percent and 49 percent to 37 percent, respectively.
Before the first debate, Bush was favored over Kerry as the "stronger leader" by 51 percent to 38 percent. Afterward, Bush led by 52 to 38. On the question of who better understands the war on terrorism, Bush led 52-33 in the latest Fox poll.
Kerry, as usual, is on stronger ground on the domestic issues that will gain more attention in the two concluding debates. But he still has hurdles to overcome on foreign policy - and his record doesn't help.
Mort Kondracke is the Executive Editor of Roll Call.
Bush better swing for the rafters tonight or God help us all.
Yes they have changed the race. As a Bush supporter it is clear to see the trend is in Skerry's direction. All of the polls are showing the race either tightened to Bush by 1 or 2, or tied. Bush has to turn it around tonight, or we'll be talking about whether he can come back from down 3 or 4 points.
Yes,all the chicken littles at best and trolls at worst.Cry my children cry.I swear I think sometimes we deserve Kerry winning
Again, the "respondents" were skewed towards the dems after the 1st "debate".
As of today, Bush's latest approval rating is 53%!
Earlier this week, Scott Rasmussen predicted on KSFO560 that the final vote would approach the approval rating!
Cheney only weakly responded to Edwards' charges that Halliburton did business with Iran and Libya....
I would love to hear the VP say "Kerry/Edwards insinuations that I made money directly from Haliburtons Iraqi contracts is like me saying that John Kerry knows that money from the Heinz-Kerry foundations was funneled to support terrorist groups... (pause).... simply ludacris"
JA above 50% is still the best predictor on the race.
Anyone know the last time an incumbent was turned out with a JA above 50%?
The President needs to answer *it* with this: "And you, Senator,
before the election, still haven't released all your military records for the American people, like I did, nor your wife's tax records, like I did. What are YOU trying to HIDE from the American people? They have a right to know EVERYTHING about anyone they are asked to pull the lever for on Nov. 2!"
I know man. I have a sick feeling in my gut.
Kerry has the whole establisment blasting Bush for what history will show as him doing the right thing. Kerry has managed to make this campaign about Iraq.
President Bush has got to find it within himself to do this right tonight or else.
What I can tell you is this. Only twice in 70 yrs has the front runner in the polls (in Oct) lost. Carter/Reagan('84) and Dewey/Truman ('40something ?). That is the positive. The negative is that things are trending in Kerry direction, albiet, has slowed down. I read charts for a living and the conditions are good for a bush turn around. It is not the best looking turn around chart, but not bad either.There are a few things I would like to see that are not there. When Bush made his big move up 7wks ago, the charts were X-lnt. That was an easy call. I guess we'll see.
A sad fact but most Americans are lemmings and the debates were the first chance to actually SEE kerry and Bush side by side and to make some comparisons.
Bush in the eyes of the MSM was painted the loser and therefore the lemmings of our country responded in the polls.
Sure it had an effect but ultimate it will come down to what the GOP has up its sleeve down the stretch run these next few weeks.
Did you watch the first debate? Bush was horrible. I almost don't want to watch this evening. If the Sox sweep the Angels maybe I'll be happy enough to stomach the debate.
"Yes,all the chicken littles at best and trolls at worst.Cry my children cry.I swear I think sometimes we deserve Kerry winning"
Isn't that the truth? I'm so sick of the whiney girly men on this site. At least Courage got zotted.
I am absolutely amazed at the number of hand-wringing, whining little crybabies around here who get their panties in a bunch every time some bogus poll moves a few percentage points.
And on the morning of November 3, (after President Bush wins big) they are the ones who will be saying "I never doubted it for a minute."
Then as a Bush "supporter" you should encourage your fellow "supporters", not to vote for a ticket like the Kerry/UN/Soros ticket, who lies smoothly, and with impunity.
If a "debate" can erase 4 years of leadership after 9/11, 2 wars, homeland security, a recesssion, a "press" complicit in accusations of lying, and shear mendacity, an elite Hollywood and NY media smears, hundreds of books slandering the entire family and administration, hostile left-wing press oversees encouraging the Islamic cults, then Americans deserve what they get.
OBL did predict an Oprah-like weakness in America.
We shall see.
I don't know what you expect from a man who for the 3rd time in 2 months visited people in Florida that had their lives whipped out, while carring concerning John Kerry went to Florida to get a manicure. True that this was a mistake on Bush's part (should have waited a day). But this speaks more for the character of the man then any debate (win or loose) that he'll be in! I do think that now he should adopt the old Texas saying of taking Kerry Blood, Ass and all!
Let's look on the bright side. After all this is not November 1st. None of the Bush/Cheney voters are going to be swayed by the debates, and I really mean NONE.
As for the "undecided" voters, give me a break, their attention spans are about 12 hours. The debates will be forgotten within 72 hours after the last one ends. The Democrat base is not nearly as solid as the Republican base and this will determine the winner on 11/02.
Bush needs to do well in tonite's debate, but it will NOT determine the race. IMOHO
See the comment .
I hate to say that's what I warned about from the beginning - - that this fool war would end up electing a Democrat. Most Americans aren't nearly as enthusiastic about getting young Americans killed in the Middle East, in a fourth-world country that didn't pose any imminent threat to the US, as a lot of freepers are. You can flame me for saying that, but it's a fact. And reciting that fact (and agreeing with the folks who don't like this war) doesn't make me a "liberal." I've bee voting conservative - and advocating all the traditional conservative causes (life, low taxes, strong defense, judicial restraint, regulatory rollback, Reagan, Goldwater, Nixon, both Bushes) for thirty years. I still believe all those things - - but I'm no longer a "conservative" because I also think this invasion was a mistake? That charge doesn't make sense, and it shows how ideological fury has skewed the perceptions of the freepers who make it. Indeed, for some of them, the only test of being a "conservative" is supporting warfare in the Middle East; you can be pro-abortion and pro-taxes and pro-environmental wackiness, and it's ok, as long as you shout rah rah about the IRaq invasion and call for more to follow. However, most non-ideological Americans see the Iraq adventure as a mistake. That's not me talking, that's the polls. My fear is that it's going to take down the Republicans, or at least Bush - and be a huge setback for all the traditional conservative causes I mentioned above (starting with the Supreme Court). Don't blame me if that prediction comes true. It's the war supporters on whose step this possible electoral disaster lies.
But let us never forget these words from our Founder:
Therefore, we wholeheartedly support the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes on known terrorist states and organizations that are believed to present a clear threat to our freedom or national security. We support our military, our troops and our Commander-in-Chief and we oppose turning control of our government back over to the liberals and socialists who favor appeasement, weakness, and subserviency. We do not believe in surrendering to the terrorists as France, Germany, Russia and Spain have done and as Kerry, Kennedy, Clinton and the Democrats, et al, are proposing.
If GWB held his own on the first debate, one could say that the debates wouldn't have mattered. But since he had such a poor performance, it mattered, since it obviously moved votes toward Kerry.
Praying for a better performance tonite.....
Thanks for the feedback, Mr. Buchanan
And if we weren't in Iraq we would not have found out about the terrorists downloading emergency procedures in our schools.
It is appeasers like you who would let our schools suffer another Beslan.
You would prefer the war be fought here, instead of there and elsewhere.
And you have never responded to the fact that the Senate Intelligence Report agreed with the administration that Iraq was providing Al Qaeda with training, bomb making, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training.
You have never responded to the Senate Intelligence Report agreeing with the administration and confirming that 78 reports from different sources provided information that Hussein's regime was actively training Iraq intelligence soldiers for terrorist attacks against America and our interests.
You have never responded to the Senate Intelligence Report confirming the administration's view that there were direct meetings between senior Iraqi military officers and top Al Qaeda operatives took place up until 2003.
You have never responded to the 9/11 Commission agreeing with previous administraton assertions that an Iraqi operative was present during at least one 9/11 planning meeting with Al Qaeda.
You have never responded to the fact that the Senate Intelligence Report confirmed that it is Joe Wilson who lied to the congress and the press about the Niger/uranium matter. In fact, the Report said that the truth about Iraq trying to buy uranium was exactly the opposite of what Wilson told the press and Congress.
You have never responded to the fact that Putin told Washington several times in the days following 9/11 that his intel officers had reports that Iraq was planning to attack the US. Was anthrax part of that attack? Putin had no reason to defend the president on this matter as he was opposed to the war in Iraq.
There is so much that you ignore. Just like Neville Chamberlain.
I can commiserate with you here--I have no intention of watching any more debates. I don't think I could take it. I'll just come here to get a "feel" for what happened.
I didn't think that Bush was horrible in the debate. But his handlers did a terrible job of pre-debate spin.
At least people's expectations for him are diminished tonight. The last thing we need is stuff like, "Bush EXCELS in the town-hall format."
People, stop. This is no different than someone with tennis elbow trying ice for a week, then heat for a week, then magnets for a week, then maybe having a witchdoctor chant over it for a week and discovers the elbow has healed.
The witchdoctor had nothing to do with it. It just was due to heal.
We have lots of things that have changed. The registration surge deadline now has lots more respondents to telephone calls who say they are RVs that did not say this before. Also, tactics get old. The swifties attacks ran their course.
Kerry was due to close in. But frankly, he's peaked too soon. Tonight will be a non event, as most debates are. Time will pass the the cycle will reassert.
Nope, never voted for Buchanan. Always voted straight Republican. Also, I'm a low-tax guy; tariffs - one of his hobby horses - are TAXES. You don't have to be a "Buchanan guy" to be a conservative and oppose this war - - - ask Tom Clancy, Bill Buckley, even George Will (who sort of whispers his opposition, because he apparently doesn't want to get the kind of treatment I get from a small group of angry freepers, who can't tolerate differing points of view, even among conservatives, when it comes to this invasion.)
Folks here need to calm down.
Debates do have an impact but it's all in the spin afterwards and even then that fades.
After the debates, folks were disappointed but nearly everyone including modruts like Kondracke thought W while less on form scored on substance and missed a chance for some zingers.
Now, many including some big righty talk radio folks and a lot of freepers are in panic mode as thought the election will be decided tonight.
It will not unless either candidate does something incredibly stupid.
You hit the nail on the head. The problem is, and let's be honest folks, that this forum isn't the best place to get a feel on who won the debate. We're going to slant towards Bush and the conservative take. That's fine. I fall in the this camp (which I think is large): Rebublican all the way. Dissapointed with my president sometimes, but loathe the alternative. Will listen to an opponents arguement and not just spit out the Republican talking points. Bush is weak off the cuff, simple as that. I worry about the sheep being influenced. If he could just capture the magic he displayed in some of his post - 9/11 speaches...He was just awesome then. I wish the style points weren't as important as they are. It sucks.
You see, I don't want to have diminished expectations...I want a guy you know is going to come through (like Cheney). I don't doubt Bush one iota behind the scenes. We're just living more and more in a dipshit, sound bite, who looks better in a suit, overly sensitive country right now (people here not included obviously). As a result, I look forward to this evening with trepidation.
Hey...imagine the stress he was under after the Towers fell...He managed some incredible oratory after that...He needs to capture that again, off the cuff. That's all I'm saying.
Yes, you have a good point. I fear that we are both political junkies.
We do have an insurance plan going for our side, as a last resort. Are undecided voters going to walk into the booth, think over the choices, remember September 11th, and break for Kerry? I don't think so.
He more than held his own, he won. But thanks to spinners on both sides, it is being presented that he lost.
If you really support the president, then focus on what was said and help the campaign by blasting what Kerry said and supporting what Bush said.
"I hate to say that's what I warned about from the beginning "
Oh yes, let's never forget that the churchillbuff is a messenger on a mission.
Neville's REALLY getting ticked.
She's a messenger on a mission and her mission won't be denied!
The only thing that disappointed me was the insane handwringing and pessimism that supposed supporters of the president chose to indulge in. They could have and should have supported him. Still can, if they so choose.
And make no mistake, those handwringers aided and abetted the "media line".
"It's the war supporters on whose step this possible electoral disaster lies."
The war is not a disaster.
If you actually spoke to REAL soldiers over in Iraq instead of relying on Dan Rather and the MSM, you'd know this.
"That's not me talking, that's the polls."
The polls you keep citing are proven to be rigged, fudge-factored, and falsed.
"I've bee voting conservative - and advocating all the traditional conservative causes (life, low taxes, strong defense, judicial restraint, regulatory rollback, Reagan, Goldwater, Nixon, both Bushes) for thirty years."
WHEN have you advocated a strong defense?
Day after day you keep whining about the war and advocating cut and run.
You continue to post the worst possible news you can dredge up from Iraq and ignore anything that goes against your viewpoint.
You posted the MSM's misquiotation and twisting of Rumsfeld's speech the other day and when it was pointed out, you blithely ignored it as if that made it go away.
You ignore what REAL soldiers say.
How can you say you're for strong defense if you won't even bother to listen to the soldiers themselves?!
Anger is its own justification.
It would appear so.
The MSM is playing its usual game of "He's up - he's down - he's up - he's down again..."
If Kerry can manage to not be Kerry for the next two debates, his likability ratings will stabilize a bit higher than before. But he still loses as long as the top issue is Iraq/WOT. This won't change given the current economy.
The only way Bush loses is if his voters don't go to the polls and/or voter fraud is even higher than before.
Consider yourself flamed.
I wonder how high Bush's rating would go if he had Kerry's sister arrested the moment her feet hit US soil?
She is disgraceful !
Of course, anything Bush does poorly (veabte) should be ignored.
Only the polls that show Bush up should be listened too.
Talk about having your head in the sand.
Who's head is in the sand?
The polls that churchy was talking about have been proven to be fudge factored and statistically useless as polls showing anything.
Either believe them all, or believe none of them.
What an ignorant statement.
How many polls do you remember being hit bu DU?
How many 'FReep this poll" threads have you seen?
The only polls that are going to be marginally honest are the 'grab Joes of the street' polls.
And even those are biased at times depending upon the pollsters bent.
I'm not talking about internet polls.
I'm talking about Gallup USA Today Zogby Rasmussen, et al.
The Gallup poll is inerrant when it shows Bush up, but full of crap when it shows Kerry up. Same with Zogby. Same with EVERY poll.
Just looking for a bit of consistency here...